By Tony Attwood
Now this is a problematic song and a half. “Dignity” (the song) does something that I can’t for the moment, associate with any other popular song. It’s core is the pragmatisation of the concept – turning the notion of “dignity” which is perceived but which cannot be touched, and is quite difficult to describe, into a reality. No wonder Bob was unsure of what he had got and took so long to release it.
It was recorded in the spring of 1989 but not released until the end of 1994, ironically on one of the Greatest Hits albums. How very Dylan.
It is a difficult song to grasp at first and I think a difficult song to cover. Indeed listening to a range of covers in preparation for this little piece, I’ve been interested to listen to the eminent recording artists who have had a bash, and really failed to deliver anything worthy of the song.
But as ever I’ve found (and indeed already knew) a handful that are worth a listen if you have a spare 15 minutes or so.
The Low Anthem’s version really is worth trying – but please don’t just judge it by the opening lines – it grows in a way that I doubt that Bob could ever have imagined. I find this beautiful, and it gives me a new set of insights into the meaning of the lyrics – which still puzzle me just as they did when the song was first released.
And because I like contrasts here is a real big contrast with Denny Freeman enjoying himself no end exploring the music only. I am not sure this really works in full, because the chord sequence and melody are so distinctive that Mr Freeman finds it hard to get away from them… but as a bit of light listening it’s nice, and very much a piece to take away the blues.
Last one for the day – and taking exactly the same beat and time as Denny Freeman, but now forcing me to focus on the sound, since I don’t speak the language. And Francesco de gregori dignità (“Il Principe dei cantautori”) (“The Prince of the singer-songwriters”) knows how to keep the original and then vary from time to time, which is why at this time, this is my favourite cover of the song.
And my lack of Italian helps me once again appreciate what a masterpiece of sound this is in a way that I can’t do if it is all just an instrumental. I need the words, even when I can’t understand them at all.
- Dylan cover of the day: Number 1. The song with numbers in the title.
- Dylan cover of the day. No 2: Ain’t Talkin
- Bob Dylan cover of the day No3: All I really want to do
- Dylan cover of the day No4: Angelina
- Dylan covers of the day No 5. Apple Suckling and Are you Ready.
- Cover version of the day No 6: As I went out one morning
- Dylan cover of the day No 7: Ballad for a Friend
- Dylan Cover of the Day No 8: Ballad in Plain D
- Dylan Cover of the Day No 9: Ballad of a thin man
- Dylan cover No. 10: The stunning reworking of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
- Dylan cover of the day No 11: The ballad of Hollis Brown
- A Dylan cover a day No 12: Beyond here lies nothing
- Dylan cover of the day No 13: Blind Willie McTell
- Dylan Cover of the Day 14: Black Crow Blues (more fun than you might recall)
- Dylan Cover of the Day 15: An unexpected cover of “Black Diamond Bay”
- Dylan Cover of the Day 16: Blowin in the wind as never before
- Dylan Cover of the Day 17: Bob Dylan’s Dream
- Dylan Cover of the Day 18: You will not believe this… 115th Dream revisited
- Dylan cover of the day 19: Boots of Spanish leather
- Dylan cover of the day 20: Born in Time
- Dylan cover of the day 21: Buckets of Rain
- Dylan cover of the day: 22 Can you please crawl out your window
- Dylan cover of the day 23: Can’t wait
- Dylan Cover of the Day 24: Changing of the Guard
- Dylan Cover of the Day 25: Chimes of Freedom
- Dylan Cover of the Day 26: Dear Landlord
- Dylan cover of the Day 27: Desolation Row as never ever before (twice)
- Dylan cover of the Day 28: Dignity.
- Dylan Cover of the Day 29: Dirge
- Dylan Cover of the Day 30: Don’t fall apart on me tonight.
- Dylan cover a Day 31: Don’t think twice
- Dylan cover a day 32: Down along the cove
- Dylan Cover of the Day 33: Crash on the Levee
- Dylan cover a day 34: Country Pie
- A Dylan cover a day 35: Dark Eyes
- A Dylan cover a day 36: Dear Landlord
- A Dylan cover a day 37: Desolation Row
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